UPDATED | Russia is contemplating the restart of production of Tupolev Tu-160 long range bomber aircraft, according to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to journalists on Wednesday 29 April. The Russian Air Force currently flies 15 Tu-160s, also known by their ‘Blackjack’ NATO-codename.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is said to have approved new equipment for Russia’s Kazan Aviation Plant in Tatarstan, where 35 of the Tu-160s were produced from 1984 to 1991. The aim is to have two new Tu-160s by the end of this year, reports say. The Ministry of Defense in Moscow has only confirmed it is considering production restart.
The Blackjack is seen as the Russians’ answer to the US Air Force Rockwell B-1B Lancer strategic bomber. The type, crewed by four, entered service in 1987. Russia is currently also updating its fleet of existing Blackjacks.
Russia considers the Tu-160 to be its most prestigious air asset, being able to carry 24 cruise missiles and 40 tons of bombs, both with a conventional or nuclear payload. It can fly back and forth to North America without refuelling.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: A Tu-160 strategic bomber (Image © Tupolev)